What if Nick Drake didn’t die and discovered synthesizers in the ’80s? That kept running through my mind during Aubergine Electric’s live debut Friday night at the Bunkhouse. Lead singer David Hopkins, who broke pretty big as a member of Irish rock group LiR and then as a solo act, also cites The Stranglers and Led Zeppelin as influences, but this felt like a continuation along the path Drake laid out.
The five-member Vegas-based band, which according to Hopkins had only rehearsed four times, impressed the receptive crowd with songs like “Come Back Here Sometime,” featuring the title as a call-and-response chorus. “Je Suis Alle” had a catchy keyboard hook from Tobias Ashmore, while “Darinne” showcased guitarist Bobby Lee Parker’s tight fills.
That last song also belongs to Bombay Heavy, Hopkins’ other band. As for what Electric means for the future of Heavy, Hopkins explained that the latter’s guitarist had visa issues in Ireland that only recently got settled, so he should be returning to the U.S. soon. Hopkins said that ideally, he’d like one of his bands to open for the other.
It’s no wonder Hopkins wants as much stage time as he can get. As he told me after the set, “That’s the first gig I’ve done in two years, and prior to that gig it was two years. So basically four years since I f*cking played.”
He has a strong crew backing him up. Besides Ashmore and Most Thieves member Parker, the live lineup includes drummer Rob Whited (also of Most Thieves) and Mac Burrus on bass. The recorded EP Unreachable on Mountain features Hopkins, Whited, Burrus and Killers’ bassist Mark Stoermer. With that new disc almost ready for release and two bands at his disposal, Hopkins’ next gig might not even be two weeks away, let alone two years. –Jason Harris